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Range Measurement Precision

A by-product of the measurement of the very precise time using the TWSTT method is that one can measure distances to communications satellites very precisely and accurately. The travel time of the Ku-band radio signals is the speed of light. For a first approximation, we could assume the speed of light is that in a vacuum, i.e. 299792458 meters/second. However, At Ku-band frequencies, the ionosphere is a significant propagation medium that the signal must pass through. This has a small but measurable effect. A small refraction (effectively increasing the path length of the signal) takes place while the signal passes through the Earth's ionosphere. The ionosphere can introduce one-way path delay errors from several tens of picoseconds to over 800 picoseconds, equivalent to ~0.003 meter and ~0.25 meter respectively in distance traversed by the light.  The true accuracy of the method in a triangulating scheme should be of the order of 1 meter or better.

TWSTT Range Precision

 

USNO Master Clock Time
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